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Thread: 9/11 Panel Explains Move On Intelligence Unit

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    9/11 Panel Explains Move On Intelligence Unit

    9/11 Panel Explains Move on Intelligence Unit

    Published: August 13, 2005

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 - The Sept. 11 commission concluded that an intelligence program known as Able Danger "did not turn out to be historically significant," despite hearing a claim that the program had identified the future plot leader Mohammed Atta as a potential terrorist threat more than a year before the 2001 attacks, the commission's former leaders said in a statement on Friday evening.

    The statement said a review of testimony and documents had found that the single claim in July 2004 by a Navy officer was the only time the name of Mr. Atta or any other future hijacker was mentioned to the commission as having been known before the hijackings. That account is consistent with statements this week by a commission spokesman, but it contradicts claims by a former defense intelligence official who said he had told the commission staff about Able Danger's work on Mr. Atta during a briefing in Afghanistan in October 2003.

    The statement was issued by Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton after a week in which the Able Danger program, a highly classified operation under the military's Special Operations Command, rose to public prominence. The Sept. 11 commission report made no mention of the unit, disbanded in 2002, and the statement by Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton defended that omission, saying the operation had not been significant "set against the larger context of U.S. policy and intelligence efforts" that involved Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

    Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton also noted that the name and character of Able Danger had not been publicly disclosed when the commission issued its public report in 2004. They said the commission had concluded that the July 2004 testimony by the Navy officer, who said he had seen an Able Danger document in 2000 that described Mr. Atta as connected to a cell in Brooklyn "was not sufficiently reliable" to warrant further investigation, in part because the officer could not supply documentary evidence to prove it.

    The leaders said the staff learned about the program in the October 2003 briefing and later sought Defense Department documents about it. But those department documents, they said, "had mentioned nothing about Atta, nor had anyone come forward between September 2001 and July 2004 with any similar information."

    Representative Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican who has called attention to the program, said the commission had done too little to follow up on the information. Mr. Weldon said he would continue to "push for a full accounting of the historical record so that we may preclude these types of failures from happening again."

    Among the questions left by the commission statement is whether the Special Operations Command received information about Mr. Atta and others from the Able Danger team in the summer of 2000 and chose not to forward it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as Mr. Weldon and the former defense intelligence official have said.

    If verified, that would be the first indication that Mr. Atta was identified as a threat by any American agency before the Sept. 11 attacks. The Special Operations Command and the Pentagon have declined to comment, and the statement issued by the commission on Friday evening addressed only its own role in reviewing information about the program.

    In an interview this week, a former senior military officer disputed that the unit members had ever presented to their superiors information that identified Mr. Atta or other suspected members of Al Qaeda. A second former officer said any information presented by the team to the leaders of the Special Operations Command would have been unlikely to be shared outside the command in the environment that prevailed before Sept. 11.

    The former defense intelligence official, who was interviewed twice this week, has repeatedly said that Mr. Atta and four others were identified on a chart presented to the Special Operations Command. The former official said the chart identified about 60 probable members of Al Qaeda.

    In interviews, former military officers have said the Able Danger unit was established in September 1999 by Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, then the head of the Special Operations Command, under a charter issued by Gen. Hugh Shelton, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Shelton, now retired, has said he does not recall the program; General Schoomaker, now the Army chief of staff, has declined to comment, as has Gen. Charles R. Holland, who took over the Special Operations Command in October 2000.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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    This story reeks from lies.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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